I carry out a few Kenwood Chef repairs a year and usually, they can be brought back to full health with simple tools and repair components. I’ve not had a faulty Chef brought in to the workshop which hasn’t left ready for service. Yet.
One common theme with all older machines is that the motor speed control circuitry can fail which either manifests itself with symptoms including, but not restricted to; electrical burning smells and smoke, the motor not running smoothly or not running at all. While the failure of a Kenwood Chef may look spectacular when it happens, the repair is fairly straightforward, if you have some basic skills, tools and some patience.
This particular A901 came in with four faults; poor feet condition, cracked cowling, the speed control knob was loose and once I opened up the motor unit to look further, burned-out capacitors.
To some, this list of faults might seem a bit daunting, but it’s standard fare on a Chef of this age and to be expected after thirty plus years service. Due to the excellent design of the product, the faults are all repairable with commonly available parts.
After about an hours’ work, the feet were replaced, the motor circuitry repaired and the replacement cowling refitted. The speed control knob had come away from the motor body and only required the pin that held it in place ‘pressing’ back in to the housing, resulting in one happy mixer.
One of my aims on this website is to share my experience and best practice so for the first time, I made a video of the complete motor repair in real-time. So, if you have a Chef to repair and twenty minutes, grab yourself some popcorn, a notepad and pen and enjoy.
Cost of replacement: £150.00 and up. Cost of repair: £30 plus my time and tea.
My dad donated a rather sick Karcher WV50 window vacuum, water sucky-uppy-thing which he’d taken half way to the bin before thinking, I know, I’ll give it to Matt.
The vacuum sucky-uppy-thing worked of sorts, but when operated, made a noise not to dissimilar to a distressed cat riding a trolley with wobbly wheels, if you get what I mean. I wish I’d recorded it.
Anyway, opening up the WV50 was pretty straightforward. Just several crossed-head screws held the two plastic halves of the unit together, revealing a simple electronic board, battery, switch, motor and fan with exhaust.
The principle of the WV50 is the same as any other domestic vacuum cleaner. A fan drives air in one direction through a smaller hole (exhaust) creating a vacuum, in this case at a small wiper blade for glass cleaning. Water is then drawn towards the fan, with the vacuum created and then diverted to a holding tank, for emptying later.
The tank on this product is quite crude and I suspect that should it be knocked over, the water within the tank could spill over in to the exhaust and in to the motor. This is what I suspected had happened and caused the motor bearing on this device to wear excessively, causing the noise.
The cost of a motor and fan replacement on the WV50 was about £30.00 (where I saw them listed) but this would make the repair un-economical. After an email conversation with Mabuchi, the makers of the motor, the original equipment K-280SA-3525, unique to the WV50, was no longer being made.
I don’t like being ‘beaten’, but having spent far too much time with batteries, bulbs and motors as a child than is entirely healthy, I realised that the casing and bearing on the K-280SA-3525 was pretty standard fare and if the spindle on our motor was OK, then all that would be required would be a new bearing. It turned out that the spindle and motor brushes were OK, so I ordered a same size motor from eBay, via a very efficient and friendly Chinese electronics specialist with the intention of swapping the motor body and bearing over.
The motor arrived quickly and the transplant only took a few minutes. Once reassembled, the motor and fan sounded like new once again. A nice cheap fix, to keep this vacuum cleaning windows for another day.
I even made a short video, showing what I did. Enjoy.
Cost of replacement: £50.00 (equivalent model) Cost of repair: £1.50, some international emails and a couple of cuppas. Nice.
I had a slightly unusual request to do a ‘bit of soldering’ on a circular saw recently. As I’m not one to say no to a broken item, I said “yes, I’ll have a look” as I was intrigued.
This Challenge Xtreme Circular Saw was working fine, but the spring-loaded safety guard had split at one of the ends and was now dangerous to use.
I guess this saw was originally sold at the ‘budget’ end of the market and some of the materials used on it were light-weight to say the least. But having said all that, for light use, this saw was a very good tool with features like a laser to guide cutting.
The guard was made of a ‘mazak’ style alloy, which would have been pressed together at the factory and therefore quite difficult to re-attach. Definitely not for soldering, welding or brazing.
I could have used a chemical metal compound as a glue or even epoxy resin, but in the end, I opted for making a simple couple of neat drilled holes with a small cable tie to bring the separated halves together, a neat mechanical and cheap fix to get the tool usable once more. Sometimes, simple is best.
Cost of replacement: £40.00 Cost of repair: One cable tie. One cup of tea.
Who doesn’t like a toy robot? I mean, everyone loves a toy robot, especially one with pop up eyes and one that eats coins. No? Well, you’re wrong if you don’t agree!
This is my own Tomy Mr. Money, which I’ve had since about 1988 ish, so it’s getting on a bit. Like me.
Back then, I wasn’t that diligent about leaving batteries in situ for long periods and when I dusted off this piece of retro cool for my daughter to play with, we discovered that the passing of time had not been kind to the old battery or insides. Which was a bit of a shame.
However, I wanted to show everyone that old toys are way cooler than new ones, so out with the screwdrivers, cleaning stuff and hammer (well, not the hammer) to see what could be done.
Luckily for me and Mr. Money, the battery compartment hadn’t fared too badly with just light corrosion to the battery terminals, which soon cleaned off with brake cleaner and some light filing to near good as new standard.
With a new AA battery installed, Mr. Money didn’t really respond that well to having money placed on his hand. In years gone by, a coin placed on his hand would trigger his eyes to open, the hand to raise to his mouth, the coin to be eaten and lips to be licked, as well as doing a little side to side dance. Mr.Money was now looking a bit arthritic. Could it be that new money is a lot lighter than the 1980s money he was designed for or was it just that the battery corrosion had run deeper than first appeared. I suspected the latter.
I took Mr. Money apart and found that the microswitch that triggers the mechanism was corroded and needed cleaning and that some of the moving parts also needed a quick brush up, all of which had Mr.Money back to rude health.
While doing the repair, I decided that it wasn’t obvious how the toy came apart and that some owners might decide to scrap theirs due to similar problems. So, I decided to make a little slide show of the dismantling, to help others. Enjoy.
Cost of replacement: £ priceless/ eBay if you’re lucky. Cost of repair: One IPA beer.
A child’s set of keys gets repaired in the workshop
It makes a nice change to repair something like a childs’ toy. I know that if the repair works out, it’ll usually make someone very happy. However, having just said that, the repair I’m about to discuss, didn’t bring joy for all…
First off, I’ll get a moan out-of-the-way. Too many kids toys take too many batteries – it’s been like that since I was a kid. This does two things; makes the toy expensive to own and damaging for the environment when the batteries expire. Now, I know there are some very cool kids toys that rely on sophisticated electronics to make them work, but manufacturers: Please try to think harder about the toy’s overall impact on the environment and it’s in-life running costs.
OK, rant over.
On with the repair. This kids-chew-musical-keys is supposed to mimic an adults’ set of car keys. It doubles up as a teething chewy thing as well as an imitation car alarm blipper remote fob thing, that plays a tune. Delightful.
This set of keys had stopped playing a tune, when any button was pressed. To some, that might have been a good thing.
The battery compartment contained two LR44 coin batteries. These are found in many items and are readily available, if you know where to look, but are not commonly stocked in supermarkets, where I suspect most people buy batteries.
Taking the batteries out revealed some light corrosion on one cell, but no dramas. The other one was corrosion free. However, a quick test with the multimeter revealed that both batteries were kaput.
I usually keep a pack of LR44s (as one does) in case of toy key emergencies like this and luckily on this occasion, I had two shiny new ones to fit. But, upon installing them, replacing the cover and pressing one of the buttons for the first time there was still no sound. How odd. What I thought would be a quick battery change had escalated in to a full toolkit situation.
Whipping the back of the key fob apart revealed a simple integrated circuit with the battery terminals, all in good condition. The small piezo speaker was held behind the main circuit board and on closer inspection, I saw that one of the soldered connections had broken away from the speaker.
Solder repair jobs like this are difficult as excess heat can quickly transfer from the joint being operated on, to the whole component, causing damage if too much heat is conducted. I had to be careful.
After some careful soldering, the broken wire was reconnected, circuit board re-installed, casing screwed back together and batteries re-fitted. A quick tap of one of the buttons then revealed musical joy. After a couple of presses I then began to regret the repair…
Cost of replacement: Not sure, £5 ish? Cost of repair: A bit of soldering.
As covered a few times on my blog already, I do like Dyson products. They’re engineer and tinker-friendly.
A colleague got in touch with a poorly DC14 which had worked well. She’d kept the filters clean and generally looked after the appliance with care, which makes a nice change. However, despite all this, nothing was being collected with the floor beaters. The hose worked OK, but that was it.
Time to do some screwdriver wealding. Despite the filters being in good condition, I washed and dried them anyway, just in case.
Up ending the vacuum cleaner revealed the problem straight away. The bottom foot hose had become disconnected from the interference fit compression joint and was flapping in the breeze. Usually when this happens, it’s because the hose has split, but this one was in good condition. What seemed to have happened was that the hose had become untwisted from the joint, so all that was required was careful reassembly.
While the cleaner was in pieces, I gave it a thorough service, paying attention to all of the machine’s seals and moving parts, especially where the cylinder joins the vacuum pipes from the motor as these can leak with age.
Once spruced-up, the cleaner was back to full health once again. Another Dyson saved from the tip.
Cost of replacement: £150 and up. Cost of repair: Time, tea and biscuits and silicone spray, a bit of washing-up liquid.
Another Kenwood Chef gets the treatment in the Workshop
How about another Kenwood Chef story? I know I’ve covered this machine a few times now, but I’ll try and make it as interesting as I can. I just LOVE Kenwood Chefs.
A customer got in touch with me via the FixItWorkshop ‘contact us’ link asking if I could fix his family’s much beloved Chef. While last in-use, it started smoking and smelling terminal. How could I refuse. I’m located in Worthing, but the customer was based in North London, quite a distance for a repair and would have been usually cost prohibitive using the Royal Mail. However, using local drop-off points, carriers such as Hermes and DPD offer (slightly slower) courier services for about £7.00 one way, which starts to make more fiscal sense. This is what we did.
I wish I’d taken a photo of the box the Chef came in, because the customer had clearly gone to a lot of effort to make sure it was well protected!
On with the repair.
The Chef has been in production many years and although they can often appear similar on the outside, they do vary on the inside, depending on the year of manufacture as small tweaks and improvements are made. Evolution, rather than revolution, usually the backbone of any successful design.
The A901E is different from the previous A901 as it features an electronic speed controller, rather than a centrifugal affair. While the later design is an improvement, it wouldn’t deter me from buying an earlier model; the improvement is small.
The A901E still features similar components to previous models which can and do fail, especially with age. The subject here is about 30 years old, give or take.
The motor on the A901E comes out quite easily; first remove the motor cover, remove the mains cable (disconnect first of course), remove the top cover, belt, then the four screws holding the motor in. The motor then pulls down from inside, out through the gap left by the hinge. Easy.
The motor circuit board showed traces of component catastrophe with dust and dirt left by exploding components. Nasty. Pre-empting the fault, I ordered a repair kit before I’d taken the machine apart, together with replacement feet as the ones on this machine were knackered. The kit includes capacitors, resistor and triac as these are the main components that tend to fail.
These kits are available on eBay and are worth the money as they are often cheaper than buying the components separately and they contain instructions for newbies. Here’s a little slide show showing the process.
With the kit fitted, the motor re-installed, mains reconnected, the Chef ran well again, this time without burning or smoking. However, all was not well as the speed control was a bit wobbly at lower speeds, which was just plain wrong. Having worked on a good few Chefs, this problem is usually down to excess end-float on the motor spindle. Working with the motor still in situ, the motor fan, which controls end-float could be adjusted with an Allen key. Sorted.
Just the replacement feet to fit and after a quick clean-up, the Chef was reassembled, ready to go home.
A top tip for you. If you intend to replace the feet on your machine and you probably should if they are old as they go hard or fall apart, then soak the area around the feet recesses with WD-40 or similar a day or so before as this will make getting the remnants of the old feet out, much easier.
Cost of a replacement: £400 up. Cost of repair: £12.65 plus my time and tea.